How to Play Grammar Quidditch

One of my favorite ways to engage my students in grammar instruction is to play Grammar Quidditch. You've been asking to learn how it's played for a long time, and I'm finally sharing the rules and instructions for Grammar Quidditch in this blog post! Click through to get the whole scoop!

For the past five years, I have been slowly improving and managing the “Grammar House Cup”, our Harry Potter-themed, inter-homeroom competition. (More on that later. But come on… if YOU had exactly four homerooms in your middle school, wouldn’t you do this, too?)

And for all five years of the “GHC”, I wished I could find a way to play Quidditch. But for a while, I couldn’t figure out how to do it WELL with the limited space of the classroom (and while engaging ALL the students instead of just some).

This past May, I finally figured it out and beta tested it with all of my 7th and 8th graders. I got the supplies from the gym teacher, grabbed my recess whistle, and took students outside. (This activity was actually part of our final exam review!)

There are a zillion ways to adapt this game. Feel free to modify the instructions below to YOUR grade level, subject area, or course content. (This doesn’t HAVE to just be about grammar!)

Why play "quidditch"?

  • Low prep on the teacher's part (aside from maybe finding the hula hoops and dodge balls)
  • Students get to be active (and review concepts at the same time)
  • Both athletic and non-athletic students have a place in the game


What you’ll need:

  • A large space (outside, a gymnasium, etc.)
  • 6 hula hoops
  • 2 dodgeballs (or similar)
  • A premade list of questions you will ask students
  • 1 yellow, gold, or orange Easter egg (or container)
  • 1 harder question, written on a slip of paper
  • Optional, but suggested: a whistle or attention-getter
  • Optional, but suggested: 2 small dry erase boards and markers (1 set for each team)
  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses for yourself, especially if you’ll be outside for several class periods in a row. (Trust me. I got my worst sunburn of the year on Quidditch day!)


Students need:

  • Totally optional: pen and paper to take notes on the questions you ask, especially for the teams of students on the sidelines.


Student Players/Roles:

  • 6 Hula-hoop-holders (students became the moving goal posts)
  • 2+ Keepers, at least 1 defending each set of 3 goals
  • 3+ players per team on the field; they start in the center of the field, backs to each other, facing the goal they want to score in.
  • 2 Seekers, 1 per team
  • Everyone else is divided into 2 teams; they sit on the sidelines, answer my grammar questions, and yell strategy to their on-field teammates.
  • (NOTE: I divided the two teams. However, once in teams, students were happiest when I let them decide who would be in what position, AND I gave them the option to “sub out” and change roles at the halfway point.)


Setup:

  1. Prep the Golden Snitch. Remember that gold Easter egg? Take the slip of paper with a hard question on it, tuck it in the egg, and hide it in your space when students can't see you. (Or, send a trustworthy student to hide it.)
  2. Explain the game to students. The diagram helps. Make your explanation quick so they can spend time assigning players to roles and getting outside. It's a little chaotic the first few minutes, but after one “turn” of grammar-question-and-gameplay, they got it.


How to Play:

  1. First, get everyone into position. This is honestly the only hard part! Moving excited students is like herding cats!
  2. Ask a grammar question from your list, loudly enough that everyone can hear. (See my example list below.)
  3. The teams on the sidelines huddle and come up with their answer. On-field students are allowed to help IF they're willing to risk the other team hearing. (I suggest a time limit. Also, it's up to you if you accept the FIRST correct answer, or if you let both teams “win” the round just by producing the right answer.)
  4. The team(s) with the right answer gets to move players on the field. The 3+ students in the middle ALL get to take ONE giant leap forward (think long-jump without the running start). Wherever they land, they must stay until the next correct answer, when they can take another leap toward their goal.
  5. This is where the strategy comes in. When one field player is close enough to one of the three goal hoops that he thinks he can make the shot, his teammates can give him their one dodgeball, and he can attempt to throw it through the hula hoop, being held by a goal post student from the same team. The hoop holders can move their arms, but not their feet, to help; the opposing team’s keeper tries to block the shot.
  6. Once a shot has been attempted, all field players of that team have to “reset” back to the middle of the field and start over, trying to advance toward their hoops. (Thus, there's some risk involved in attempting a shot).
  7. To be honest, most of my students DID make their attempted shots, but it was fun for them to get points. If you want to make it harder for them to make the shot, there are many ways to do that (like spreading out the distance of the field more).
  8. Game play continues until we run out of time. 
  9. The team with the highest points wins.


Meanwhile, the golden snitch!

  • As soon as I ask the first question, the two seekers run off to start looking for the hidden golden snitch. (Yes, I gave them a boundary line to stay within.)
  • When a seeker finds it, that seeker must come back to me and attempt to answer the question that is hidden inside. A right answer gets them additional points for their team; a wrong answer gets zero.
  • Once the snitch has been found, I made all students stop, sit in place, cover their eyes, and badly sing obnoxious songs (like the ABCs or the HP theme song) while a trusted student went and hid the Snitch again.
  • Repeat the process, using the same seekers OR new ones that the team chose to swap out.

Other Pro Tips:
  • Bring a camera, or get a student on the yearbook staff to bring one! This can get pretty funny.
  • Use choral response to get all students across the field to repeat the correct answers back to you. This is one way to ensure students are still listening, participating, and learning. 
  • Encourage kids to strategize which students are in particular roles on the field, based on their strengths.  
Sample questions I asked:

  1. What does AAAWWUBBIS stand for?
  2. What are the three kinds of verbals?
  3. What's the difference between active and passive voice?
  4. Explain why Mrs. H wants to Hulk-smash things when students write “should of”.
  5. Give me a correct example of a complex sentence, including punctuation.
  6. Give me a correct example of parallel structure.
  7. What is a predicate?
  8. What is a participle?
  9. Sing a prepositional phrase used in a song.
  10. Trick question: how many Harry Potter books are there? (As you can see, I occasionally got off-topic, ha!)


About the Grammar House Cup
A partial blog post about the GHC can be found here (but I owe you an Update Post!). ALL of the grammar lessons, game boards, quizzes, and tests in my Grammar House Cup program can be found here.

Do you have suggestions or ideas? 
I would love to hear them in the comments!

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